In therapy the other week, I was with my younger son, who doesn’t love therapy per se, but he loves an audience and therefore loves a therapist. He said his life is so hard and it’s so hard to live on a farm and go to the city and the only good day of the week is Saturday. When he is in cello classes all day long.

It’s hard to say if it’s the non-stop cello or all the kids. He loves both so much.

So last weekend we were at a cello festival. Which translates to a weekend full of large groups of kids in cello lessons – his dream come true.

He spends the weekend enthralled with the meeting new teachers and chatting up kids between classes.

He says to two boys, “You look like brothers.”

One boy says, “That’s racist,” and walks away.

My son tells me this in a dark hallway so no one can hear. He says, “Is that racist? Was I mean?”

He wants to know everything. He wants to know how you can be racist if you didn’t mean to be. He wants to know why he can’t tell the difference between Asian kids but the Asian kids see the difference between white kids. He wants to know how many kids of a race you need to live near so that you are not racist.

His questions get better and better over the course of the hour-long break between classes.

He wants to know if he should apologize. I say “Yes, probably. You can tell him you didn’t know. You can tell him you live on a farm and you never see Asian kids except in group class.”

Honestly, I’m not sure what he should say. This I know for sure, though: No amount of teaching about race on Martin Luther King Day taught my son about real racism. 

What made him understand is another kid saying it. Kids learn best from doing rather than being told. My kid was racist, but being called out as a racist by another kid is a a great way to learn. It’s reason number 400,000,001 that kids don’t need teachers in order to learn.